Everything You Need to Know About Impulsivity

Impulsivity is when you act quickly without thinking about the consequences. You can have impulsive behaviors once in a while. But when you cannot control your impulsive behaviors, they happen frequently, and accompanied by other symptoms of mental illness, it becomes a disorder. Doctors do not know the exact cause of New York impulsivity, but it may develop due to a combination of factors, including genetics, environment, brain function, physical changes in your brain, brain injury, and childhood trauma. Impulsivity can be a symptom of an underlying mental health condition.

What are the symptoms of impulsivity?

Common symptoms of impulsivity include overindulging in things like eating, destroying things in a moment of anger, losing your temper too often, talking without thinking, and sharing intimate details. You may also overreact by getting physical, making minor situations more urgent, and self-harm. Children with impulsivity may scream or yell in frustration, frequently butt into conversations, or throw things when upset. Such kids may also take what they want rather than ask or wait for their turn or ignore danger like running into the street without checking traffic.

What conditions are linked to impulsivity?

Borderline personality disorder

Borderline personality disorder involves the inability to control your emotions. Common symptoms include impulsivity, poor self-image, dangerous behaviors, and self-harm.

Bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder is characterized by extreme mood shifts, usually mania or depression. In manic episodes, you may experience impulsive behaviors. Other symptoms of bipolar disorder include high energy, agitation, euphoria, racing thoughts and talkativeness, and poor decision-making.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

When you have ADHD, you experience trouble paying attention and controlling impulsive behavior. Common ADHD symptoms include restlessness, forgetfulness, interrupting others, and trouble concentrating.

Substance use

Certain substances like alcohol can break down inhibitions, leading to impulsive behavior. Impulsivity may also lead to the development of substance use disorders. Doctors may find it challenging to determine which came first.

Antisocial personality disorder

Antisocial personality disorder is characterized by impulsive and manipulative behavior. Other symptoms may include quick to anger, arrogance, lying, aggressiveness, and a lack of remorse.

Intermittent explosive disorder

Intermittent explosive disorder involves having frequent impulsive or aggressive behavior episodes. Such behaviors may include temper tantrums, physical violence, and road rage.


Kleptomania is a condition where you cannot resist the compulsion to steal. Patients with kleptomania tend to have coexisting mental health issues like anxiety or depression.

Brain injury or stroke

Brain injury or stroke can cause behavior changes. You may experience impulsiveness, poor judgment, and a short attention span.

What are the treatments for impulsivity?

Treatment for impulsivity depends on the cause. Behavioral analysis is a general treatment option for impulsivity that help you learn to handle situations that trigger your impulsive behaviors. Your doctor may recommend antidepressants like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors to help manage impulse control disorders. If ADHD causes impulsivity, your doctor may prescribe amphetamine and methylphenidate.

Impulsivity makes you act quickly without a thought about the consequences. The condition can be a symptom of an underlying mental health disorder or be caused by brain function, an injury, or environmental factors. Schedule an appointment at Beyond ADHD to learn how to control impulsive behaviors.